During June and July of 2008, I went on my last diet, which was prompted, as things often are, by an upbeat proponent named Joy who told me she’d lost 10 lbs a month on NutriSystem.
Joy got my attention when she said there was so much food that she could hardly eat it all. As an experienced dieter who has always had a good appetite, I listened to Joy and longed to look as svelte as she did. Following the plan for just two months solved her weight problem. Although I had always vowed I would never ever pay someone to tell me to eat less (and for $10 per day-ouch!), I was sold. Online research and testimonials confirmed my impression that NutriSystem was a healthy, respected, and proven program. I signed up and looked forward to receiving my shipment.
In the meantime, however, I ate as if a famine were imminent and I would never eat again. I cooked favorite meals, went to a favorite restaurant, devoured favorite sweets, and was disappointed when I was too full to eat another mouthful.
When the NutriSystem box arrived on my front porch, I sorted all the packages into Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner entrées. I also stocked up on raw vegetables for the two salads per day.
D-Day arrived. I stepped on the scale first thing in the morning and weighed 195 lbs. The diet began, which was actually a relief because I was stuffed to the gills from bingeing the previous day. For breakfast, I had a nonfat latté with Splenda and munched a NutriSystem scone, which turned out to be quite good. For a midmorning snack, I ate a nonfat cheese stick and for lunch, I ate salad with a thimbleful of non-caloric dressing, plus an entrée. At first, I wrote down everything that went into my mouth. The novelty of the meals, plus all the salad, kept me interested. The cost of the plan alone made me comply. By the end of the week, I was hungry when I went to bed, but I’d also lost six lbs.
The meals were pretty good for the most part. In restaurants, I ate an amount of food similar to what the NutriSystem plan specified. The weight continued to come off. Joy was right—I lost 10 lbs within the first month. So I signed up for a second month.
During the diet, my clothes began to fit better and I switched from my size 18 wardrobe to my size 16 wardrobe. At the end of two and a half months, I weighed 170 and felt great. I could even get into some size 14 tops.
When all the NutriSystem packages were gone, I felt free again, although I tried to monitor portion size. Breads and sweets tasted so good!
During the next four months, I gained back all the weight plus a couple pounds. I felt terrible—all that money down the drain!—and concluded I was weak-willed. But I also wondered why all the diets I ever tried failed to give me the tools to address my real food issues. Maybe diets weren’t the answer.